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|My Case 310 and Mr. Jules|
My story starts about a year ago when my longtime friend Bill Murray and I rescued a 1956 Case model '310' roundnose utility Tractor, equipped with a front end loader from behind an auto repair shop a few miles from us. Now, Bill and I have built and worked on all kinds of vehicles at our garages on Long Island, New York, from go-karts to stock cars, exotic cars, hot rods and racing fire trucks for over twenty years, but this tractor was a first. We have a friend who lives about five houses down from Bill's garage where we do most of our work. When our friend Jules Kuriger would spot my car in front of Bill's house, he would walk down in any kind of weather to see what we were up to, as anything was possible. We called him 'Mr. Jules' out of respect, not only for his eighty plus years on this earth, but for his vast knowledge as a professional machinist, the old Swiss kind that don't come along much anymore. When he saw that old rusted tractor he must have figured we had dropped too many wrenches on our heads over the years and that both of us had finally 'lost it'. But that didn't stop Mr. Jules. When we needed to make new kingpins and bushings, 'Mr. Jules' made sure in no uncertain terms that they were done right. When we needed to machine a new splined shaft to drive the loaders hydralic pump, he did not make it. Instead, he taught me how. When we had to build a new power steering ram (they are impossible to find), 'Mr Jules was there. About six months ago, Mr Jules was diagnosed with terminal intestinal cancer. Even then he would walk down to the garage, toting his medical necessities along just to make sure our project was being done right. Mr Jules is now home under hospice care, and appears to have come to terms with what will soon be a meeting with his maker. Last evening at Bill's garage, we had the tractor jacked up, rear wheels off and were painting the back section with that unmistakable Flanbeau Red. Mr Jules son, Carl, walked up the driveway. As we saw the look on his face, we prepared ourselves for the worst. But his sadness was not about his dad, as he was hanging in there, but for the sight of the disassembled old '310'. You see, Carl had just returned from the shop where his dad had worked for many years and kept many of his heavy machines. His dad wanted Carl to have the machines as he could no longer operate them. The problem was that the machines were in the back of a U-Haul truck with no way to unload them. He had hoped that the old Case could help. Bill and I said that we would look and see if we could help, after we finished painting the tractor. We both had planned to attend a local custom car show and return later that evening to check on the paint job. After Carl left the garage, Bill and I looked at each other and started to put the rear wheels back on the still wet painted tractor and backed her out. The car show would wait. For the next three hours and into the darkness, the old '310' worked nonstop unloading that heavy machinery, and depositing it safely into Mr Jules garage, while never missing a beat. In a way, I think that old tractor was saying 'thanks for all the fresh parts and care it was given'. It was not going to let Mr Jules down. While I was up in the back of the U-Haul securing the next machine onto the loader, my friend Bill yelled to me from the tractor seat, 'Wave to the Chief'. I said, 'What?' He yelled again, 'Wave to the Chief'. I looked to the house to see Mr Jules standing in the doorway, his hands firmly gripping his aluminum walker. I waved, and he waved back. A sign of approval that we were doing it right and to watch that old Case work. His family said it was the first time he had gotten up from his chair in over a week. By the time we finished unloading, it was too late to speak with Mr Jules. but I can bet that he had a peaceful night after seeing his beloved machines, that helped him provide for his family for so many years, safely home. Now and forever, after Mr Jules day comes, every time I climb up on that old '310', I will think of that wave from the front door as we strapped on another load. I apologize for being so lengthy, but how can you condense the story of a gentlemen whose life was so special. Thank you for listening to my story of the Case 310 and 'Mr Jules'. Pray for him.
Bill Green, NY, entered 2008-07-16
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